“And whoever does not receive you nor listen to your words, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet.” – Matthew 10:14
Jesus told the apostles to decide if a person or their home was worthy, as they traveled in pairs (Matthew 10:7–13). This verse clarifies how the disciples were meant to make that decision. Jesus wasn’t talking about religious stature or sinlessness or being well-regarded by their neighbors. Those who were worthy of hosting Jesus’ representatives were the ones who received them and listened to their words. The worthy ones would hear and, most likely, believe.
If they will not listen and will not receive the apostles, Jesus says they are not worthy of the apostles’ time, attention, and continued effort. Jesus tells them here to shake the dust off their feet when leaving that unworthy house. If nobody in the town will hear them, they must shake the dust off their feet on the way out of town. This gesture is connected to Jewish culture and carries heavy symbolism.
The Jewish people would shake the dust off their feet when leaving a Gentile place. They showed in doing this that they were carrying no part of that Gentile world with them, including the dust that might cling to their sandals. They saw it as symbolic of obeying God’s command to remain separate from their Gentile neighbors. Jesus claims this symbol for His disciples now, though, as a sign of God’s coming judgment on those left behind in such a way.
In a modern application, this verse reminds believers not to “carry” anything from those who reject the message of Christ. Earlier, Jesus commanded His followers not to waste time or effort on those who were clearly hostile (Matthew 7:6). Here, His words serve as a reminder that believers should be willing to let go, and move on, when their message is not accepted.
Interesting point that Jesus makes here. When someone isn’t ready to accept or flat out rejects the message of Christ, move on. Don’t get hung up on it. There will be many that just won’t believe. It’s part of life. Hard truth? Yes, absolutely, especially if this means that someone you care about or love is rejecting the message.
Do we let those folks go as easily? No. I think we let our lives do the speaking in these cases. Let them see and feel the love of Christ in and around our actions.
Continued prayers for all who are hoping to see loved ones come to Jesus.